Byrne: Joe will improve every player he works with
Australia skills coach Mick Byrne has been around the rugby world.
The former Aussie Rules 'ruckman,' the same position played by our own Jim Stynes, morphed into a rugby union coach over time.
The Sydney-born innovator once worked for Matt Williams at Leinster and Scotland.
His greatest accomplishment came over the 10-year association (2005-2010) with New Zealand rugby where he was the skills coach for their back-to-back World Cups.
He even came across Joe Schmidt on those travels.
"I know Joe from his Bay of Plenty days and at the Auckland Blues," he said.
"Right back then, he was a thorough coach, very technically-minded coach.
"He had a passion for making sure every individual player in his squad was getting better.
"Any player that is going to be coached by Joe is going to get that experience and, certainly, not die wondering how they can get better.
"He's getting the rewards he deserves on the field and I'm looking forward to catching up with him after the game.
"Hopefully, he's had his big success for the year," he smiled.
Byrne has not been immune to how Ireland have been faring and was not surprised by what happened in Chicago.
"I was here when they nearly beat the All Blacks a couple of years ago, so it's been coming," he said.
"That was an itch for Ireland that needed to be scratched and they scratched it pretty well.
"I know how disappointed they were a couple of years ago when Aaron Cruden converted a try in time-on, they did really well that day.
"Under Joe, they're playing a really great brand of rugby.
"They're challenging every team and you've got to make your tackles against them.
"I think it was great for Irish rugby because I called Joe after that game a couple of years ago and he was a devastated man.
"I'm glad he's been able to get that monkey off his back."